Cole Hamels and Yovani Gallardo are front-line starters for their respective teams, but their records are unbecoming of that status as they fight through struggles.
Yet both have reason to be optimistic when they square off in the opener of a three-game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
Hamels (1-8, 4.43 ERA) has exceeded his loss total from 2012 and is within three of his career high set in 2009 and matched in 2010. The left-hander dropped his career-worst fifth straight start Sunday, giving up five runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-1 defeat at Washington.
While Hamels didn't pitch well in that game, a lack of run support has also plagued the 17-game winner from last year. The Phillies have provided him 20 runs in his 11 starts, and he hasn't pitched with a lead since April 7.
``It's just part of the game,'' Hamels said when asked about the lack of offensive support. ``You have to go out there and execute pitch after pitch and try to get through the hitters, through the innings, and obviously through the game.''
Hamels has certainly battled Milwaukee well, winning his last four matchups with a 2.08 ERA. He won his only start versus the Brewers last season, giving up three runs - all on two homers - in 7 2-3 innings of a 4-3 victory Aug. 18.
Ryan Braun had one of those home runs, his third in 25 at-bats against Hamels.
The Phillies (26-28), who have scored more than five runs once in their last 12 games, settled for a split of their four-game set with Boston after a 9-2 defeat Thursday.
``It's a battle for us to win games,'' Manuel said after his team dropped to 8-23 when scoring three or fewer runs. ``We haven't blown many people out. In order for us to get a winning streak, we have to score more runs.''
Domonic Brown had two hits and is batting .359 with six homers and 12 RBIs in his last 10 contests.
Gallardo (3-5, 4.79) can certainly empathize with Hamels, both in terms of struggles and run support. He has a 5.40 ERA during a career-worst four-start losing streak, but the Brewers (19-33) have given him little help by providing four runs of support in that span.
Gallardo gave up four runs in four innings of a 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Opponents are hitting .284 against him, well above his career mark of .244.
"It's definitely frustrating. I don't know how to explain it, really,'' the right-hander said. ``It's just one of those weird days. You go out there and have pretty good command of all of your pitches but obviously the results aren't there.''
If there's a silver lining for Gallardo entering Friday, it's his domination of the Phillies. He's gone 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in as many starts, striking out 28 in 20 2-3 innings, though this will be his first appearance in Philadelphia.
Ryan Howard has had some success versus Gallardo, going 3 for 8 with a home run and a double.
Milwaukee has dropped a season-worst six in a row after Thursday's 8-6 defeat at Minnesota in which it allowed four home runs. The Brewers, who have allowed 14 homers during their skid, have dropped three in a row on the road and 13 of their last 16 away from Miller Park.